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High Winds Down Power Lines, Fell Trees in Valleys

Weather: Nighttime gusts reach 79 mph. The heaviest damage is reported in Pasadena and Sierra Madre.

March 22, 2000|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Winds gusting up to 79 mph hammered the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys before dawn Tuesday, felling trees, smashing windows, downing power lines and whipping up a brush fire that briefly threatened several homes.

For most residents, Tuesday was a day of cleaning up the mess: piles of leaves, stacks of tree limbs and heaps of trash that littered yards and streets as the winds began to abate by midmorning.

For Sara Entner, it was a day of regret. She had left her new Isuzu Trooper parked under one of about a dozen trees that toppled in Pasadena.

For some residents of Glendale, it was a day of relief. Despite the powerful winds and low humidity, a brush fire near their homes was confined to a couple of acres.

Communities in the San Gabriel Valley appeared to have been hardest hit by the winds.

In Pasadena, the gusts that toppled trees also shorted out power lines, cutting electricity to scores of homes and to traffic signals at points throughout the city. Gutters and shingles were stripped from roofs in the Hastings Ranch district, and the city's streets were strewn with tree branches and palm fronds.

In Sierra Madre, plate glass windows were blown out of a Bank of America branch on Sierra Madre Boulevard. Because of the early hour, the bank was unoccupied and there were no injuries.

In Covina and Whittier, hundreds of homes were without electricity in the morning, but power was restored in most areas by midafternoon.

The most powerful gust in Los Angeles County, a hurricane-force blast of 79 mph, was recorded at Camp 9 above San Fernando, and there were numerous readings above 60 mph in the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains.

By midafternoon Tuesday, the gusts had diminished to variable breezes. But Stacey Johnstone, a meteorologist with WeatherData Inc., said the winds could pick up again during the night, possibly reaching 50 mph below some mountain canyons.

By noon today, she said, things should have quieted down for good, with sunny skies and high temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

But that doesn't mean it won't rain again.

Johnstone said a storm system lurking far out in the Pacific could bring a few showers to Los Angeles on Saturday.

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